Sure individual players are fun to watch on the court, the owners bankroll our favorite teams, the arena workers greet me with a smile and the front office staff spends all day and night trying to make my team better.
But which will I miss the most when games (at least preseason) are cancelled?
In truth, I won't really miss any of the above. Not Steve Nash, or Robert Sarver, or Lon Babby, or even Lupita the arena worker who smiles and hugs me every time I come through the tunnel to my seats. I don't know any of them personally, so how can I really miss them personally?
What I really miss is the GAME of basketball.
Not the individuals who dribble, shoot, dunk or sign the checks. I miss the sound of leather pounding hardwood, the squeak of rubber, the trill of a whistle, the 'and 1!' or 'umph!' on a contested drive to the basket.
There's nothing better than, as a potentially game-changing 3-pointer floats toward the basket, the entire crowd of 20,000 rises as one along with the ball, an anticipatory 'oooohhhh!' building like a wave on the ocean, ready to break into raucous roar when the ball drops through the net.
At that moment, who cares who put up the shot? Who cares who paid that player to wear orange and purple?
The only thing that matters is that MY player on MY home town team has the cajones to take a big shot that could change the future, and at that moment I'd probably promise my next born child to them if they'd just sink the damn thing.
I love Steve Nash because he makes the game look so pretty, so easy. I love being surprised by a pass to a suddenly open roll man, whose eyes get big as saucers when he realizes he's about to make SportsCenter.
But would I stop being a fan of the Suns if someone other than Steve Nash was passing the ball? No.
KJ was wonderful, as were Westphal, Kidd, Barkley, Chambers, Majerle, Manning, DJ... hell even Dumas, Ceballos, Miller, and most every other guy who donned the purple and orange over the years.
The only former Suns players I don't recall fondly? The ones who didn't buy into MY team 100% - like Vince Carter, for the most recent example.
But as long as a player, coach, owner or GM loved being a Phoenix Sun, I loved them back.
And that's because I'm a SUNS fan. And I want to watch MY team play basketball, no matter who dons the purple and orange. As long as they sell their souls to the Suns 100%, they have my loyalty. And as soon as they stop, so does my loyalty.
The lockout will be over soon. Rosters will churn. The 2011-12 and 2012-13 Suns will likely be a lot different.
But I don't care. Give me squeaking shoes, a bouncing ball, shrill whistles and a big-time 3-point attempt and I'll be happy man.